Why Are So Many Blacks & Latinos Fat? Research From Manufacturers Hides the Truth

Manufacturers cleverly hide products' dangers behind corporate-responsibility campaigns.

Are the companies that bring us junk food and sugary drinks funding feel-good research studies to mask what they're really doing—driving conditions such as obesity and diabetes to record-high levels, particularly among Blacks and Latinos?

Two recent studies in medical journals build on the mounting evidence: Food and drink makers are funding their own research studies that (not surprisingly) fail to reveal the health risks from their products that have been repeatedly proven elsewhere. At the same time, these companies are coming up with creative corporate-responsibility campaigns that hide the risks of empty calories behind campaigns for wellness, exercise, and support of Black and Latino communities—the very ones that would benefit most from replacing processed food with fresh choices.

Nowhere is the impact of corporate muscle more evident than in New York City, where 58 percent of adults are overweight or obese, with that rate reaching 70 percent in Black, Latino and low-income communities—and where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has faced a barrage of criticism for his plan to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 oz. Organizations like the NAACP—which has a goal to eradicate health disparities—has sued to block the law, claiming it will hurt minority-owned small businesses (not to mention the effect the ban will have on the NAACP's deep-pocketed corporate sponsors). The federal government has been asked to step in, but so far nothing's happened.

It's not all bad news from corporate America. Some health-based organizations take a direct approach to bringing healthy food to communities they serve. Kaiser Permanente has had Community Health Initiatives since 2004—with strategies such as supporting a weekly farmers market in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood (where 98 percent of residents are Black or Latino) beginning to show results; and a commitment to provide healthier food to Kaiser's own employees and patients. Kaiser Permanente and Time Warner's HBO have also funded the documentary series The Weight of the Nation, shown on HBO last spring but now available free online.

Kaiser Permanente is No. 3 in the DiversityInc Top 50, and Time Warner is No. 33.

Time Warner: Ladies in Tech at Turner: Noyda Matos

Noyda's journey into the field, how she overcomes obstacles, and her advice to young women who want to follow her lead.


Originally Published by Time Warner.

Noyda Matos, applications architect – CNNMoney, never thought she'd work in technology. She wanted to be a lawyer. But when the Cuba native encountered educators talking about the joys of computer science at a local university, the experience forever changed her, inspiring Noyda to ditch her law aspirations and explore the world of mathematics.

Erica Reed, director – Technical Product Management, NBA Digital, who was featured in the last issue of LiTTeral, interviewed Noyda via Skype (Erica is based in Atlanta, and Noyda works in Turner's New York office). The ladies of tech talked about Noyda's journey into the field, how she overcomes obstacles, and her advice to young women who want to follow her lead. Erica Reed: How long have you worked here at Turner? And have you had just one role, or different ones?

Noyda Matos: It's been almost six years, and I've been in one role, which has evolved over time. I'm a software developer, and every year I do different things. It's the same title, but new tasks, new challenges. It's exciting. (Since we conducted this interview, Noyda has been promoted to Application Architect.)

ER: What team are you on?

NM: CNNMoney. We support the website, always providing content or developing the front end for CNNMoney.

ER: What specific pieces in web development do you handle in your role, and what programming languages do you use on a daily basis?

NM: In the past, I used to work more in what they call backend. What I built would provide all the data and the JSON information for the mobile applications. Now, we're moving to full stack development. We go from providing the content to creating React components for the content.

Right now, we are using Node.js and React. Java was my main language back in the day, which is helpful at CNNMoney. Today more of our development is in Node.

ER: One of the great things about working at Turner is that your work is visible to the world. Millions of people are hitting CNNMoney and seeing your work! How does that feel?

NM: It's great. I call my projects my babies. I say, "Oh, I'm so proud!" It's truly a great sensation.

ER: Let's talk about your educational background. What were your favorite subjects in school?

NM: For me it was kind of weird – weird in the sense that until college I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an international lawyer. I was born in Cuba, and I went to the open house at the university, and there I saw students speaking about computer science. It piqued my curiosity, so I decided to apply, and my parents freaked out, saying, "You went from law to computer science? That doesn't make much sense."

ER: So, you were born and raised in Cuba. What was your transition like to the United States?

NM: After finishing computer science in Cuba, I applied for my PhD in Spain; I lived and worked in Barcelona for a long time. Then the company that I was working for offered me a position in Corvallis, Oregon, and I moved to the United States. One day I visited New York, I fell in love with it and moved here. I kind of go with the wind, go with the flow in my life. You never know what doors will open.

ER: What an interesting journey…

NM: It really was. From Cuba to Barcelona, to Madrid, back to Barcelona, to Oregon, then finally to New York.

ER: What keeps you excited about working in technology?

NM: I think that it is beautiful in the sense that it's like art. To me, it's like painting. I'm creating something. I'm solving a problem, but in a really unique way. And that's fun.

ER: Looking back over your career, is there a big win or accomplishment that makes you smile?

NM: I worked at a startup that was created by a colleague of mine when I was in my PhD program, in Spain. It was an amazing group of people, and we were encouraged to have no restrictions. Anybody could bring ideas. That experience taught me you don't have to wait for someone to tell you what to do; it's on you to bring ideas and fight for them.

ER: That's one of the things employees appreciate about Turner, too. Even though the work is deadline-driven, we still push ourselves to innovate.

NM: Yes, and it's amazing because other companies that are this big will tell you, "Oh no, don't even think about it. You won't change the way we work." But here, our leaders encourage you to explore new technologies, new ideas. It's awesome.

ER: Did you experience any challenges in entering the technology field?

NM: In my experience, you just go and figure it out. If I had a wall in front of me, I would knock it down or go around it. But I don't remember anything that would make me say, "Oh, that was a difficult time."

ER: If you were talking to a young girl who may be interested in technology, what wisdom would you share with her?

NM: I would say give it a try, because you could be so creative in so many different ways. You can be thinking of it from the algorithm point of view, as far as how to solve a problem, but you could also come at it from a graphics point of view on how to design a page. There is so many flavors that you just need to find your place in this huge universe, because you will fit no matter what.

Another bit of advice is always follow your feelings, your gut. Don't stay in one place, and never give up. The most important thing is to never give up. Even if you face problems, find a solution. Let it rest and come back and try to fix it. Just go, be yourself and try. And when someone tells you that you can't do something, go around it and find another way to do it!

After a Typhoon of Publicity, Harvey Weinstein Charged with Rape

Allowed to turn himself in with pre-arranged bail already taken care of.


There was one more red carpet for Harvey to walk down. At 7:30 this morning, the alleged rapist walked into a Lower Manhattan police station surrounded by cameras flashing and reporters shouting his name.

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Kaiser Permanente Researchers Develop New Models for Predicting Suicide Risk

Approach may offer value to health systems and clinicians in targeting interventions to prevent suicide

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

Combining data from electronic health records with results from standardized depression questionnaires better predicts suicide risk in the 90 days following either mental health specialty or primary care outpatient visits, reports a team from the Mental Health Research Network, led by Kaiser Permanente research scientists.

The study, "Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Death Following Outpatient Visits Using Electronic Health Records," conducted in five Kaiser Permanente regions (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, California and Washington), the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis, was published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Combining a variety of information from the past five years of people's electronic health records and answers to questionnaires, the new models predicted suicide risk more accurately than before, according to the authors. The strongest predictors include prior suicide attempts, mental health and substance use diagnoses, medical diagnoses, psychiatric medications dispensed, inpatient or emergency room care, and scores on a standardized depression questionnaire.

Dr. Simon shares what inspired him to study mental health.

"We demonstrated that we can use electronic health record data in combination with other tools to accurately identify people at high risk for suicide attempt or suicide death," said first author Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH, a Kaiser Permanente psychiatrist in Washington and a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

In the 90 days following an office visit:

  • Suicide attempts and deaths among patients whose visits were in the highest 1 percent of predicted risk were 200 times more common than among those in the bottom half of predicted risk.
  • Patients with mental health specialty visits who had risk scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 43 percent of suicide attempts and 48 percent of suicide deaths.
  • Patients with primary care visits who had scores in the top 5 percent accounted for 48 percent of suicide attempts and 43 percent of suicide deaths.

This study builds on previous models in other health systems that used fewer potential predictors from patients' records. Using those models, people in the top 5 percent of risk accounted for only a quarter to a third of subsequent suicide attempts and deaths. More traditional suicide risk assessment, which relies on questionnaires or clinical interviews only, is even less accurate.

The new study involved seven large health systems serving a combined population of 8 million people in nine states. The research team examined almost 20 million visits by nearly 3 million people age 13 or older, including about 10.3 million mental health specialty visits and about 9.7 million primary care visits with mental health diagnoses. The researchers deleted information that could help identify individuals.

"It would be fair to say that the health systems in the Mental Health Research Network, which integrate care and coverage, are the best in the country for implementing suicide prevention programs," Dr. Simon said. "But we know we could do better. So several of our health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, are working to integrate prediction models into our existing processes for identifying and addressing suicide risk."

Suicide rates are increasing, with suicide accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016; 25 percent more than in 2000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Other health systems can replicate this approach to risk stratification, according to Dr. Simon. Better prediction of suicide risk can inform decisions by health care providers and health systems. Such decisions include how often to follow up with patients, refer them for intensive treatment, reach out to them after missed or canceled appointments — and whether to help them create a personal safety plan and counsel them about reducing access to means of self-harm.

People With Disabilities Forced to Live in Assisted Care Facilities

Some close to the issue are claiming this is a civil rights matter.

Minnesota has a civil rights issue. Thousands of people with disabilities who can't find quality home care are forced to resort to living with people three times their age. The state of Minnesota is paying for 1,500 people who are under the age of 65 to live in assisted living. This is the case with 25-year-old Korrie Johnson.

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Man Who Threatens to Sic ICE on Spanish-Speaking People Identified

Aaron Schlossberg is a New York-based attorney, and it turns out he has a lot of problems and they're all well documented.

The man caught on video lashing out at people for speaking Spanish has been identified as attorney Aaron Schlossberg. Twitter users made the identification, and it is being widely reported that he is the man.

The good news is that a GoFundMe account has been set up to send a Mariachi band to Schlossberg's Manhattan office. According to the fundraiser, "Any leftover money will be used to send a delicious Taco Truck lunch to the staff and a copy of all federal and state statute mentioning undocumented immigrants do not qualify for welfare."

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